Tag Archives: priest

Visitation of Catholic Seminaries & Houses of Formation: Final Docs

RJN ordination.jpgIn 2005-2006, the Congregation for Catholic Education conducted an Apostolic visitation of all the seminaries and houses of formation which prepare men for the sacrament of Holy Orders. The visitation was coordinated by Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, a veteran seminary rector. The Congregation’s document is signed by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the Prefect and Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P. the under-secretary.

Cardinal O’Malley notes in his letter to the US bishops that, in general, the report is positive, healthy but indicates the holes in the formation programs, namely:

– Mariology and Patristics;

– a commitment to sentire cum Ecclesia in the area of moral theology, particularly homosexual behavior;

– need for continued vigilance toward matters of the internal forum;

– that there be a greater collaboration between bishops and rectors to ensure consistency of formation for seminarians during times of vacation (what do seminarians do when they aren’t in school or being supervised?);

– that Mass be celebrated every day in the seminary, including Sunday;

– that only priest personnel vote for the advancement of candidates;

– that there be a check for irregularities the program;

– and to know and deal with the impediments candidates may have incurred at the start of formation.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s letter to the US bishops

The Final Report from the Congregation

NO formation program of priestly formation is perfect. As is all reports there are some items that never surface with honesty: prayer life, assent to
Thumbnail image for Christ.jpg
what the Gospel teaches, assent to magisterial teaching on all matters, sexuality, service to those in need, healthy interpersonal relationships with men, women and consecrated religious. Though I can’t say with certainty that the interviews were dishonest I can say that there is a certain amount of non-disclosure based on the context of the seminarians and faculty and who made up the visitation committee. Not all committees were equal. Plus, the bishop with a seminary in his diocese had an opportunity to dispute what was written in the report. Some things can be rewritten. What I am also interested in are the names of the seminaries and formation houses who are doing the good work and those who need to revamp their programs. In all of this review and hype about programs, we need to keep one cnetral fact straight: keep the focus on Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Without Christ, what’s point? 

Epiphany Novena for priests

John Paul with BS.jpgLittle more than a year my friend Fr. Mark at Vultus Christi initiated a plan of prayer for the priesthood, particularly in reparation for sins committed by priests. This plan of prayer was inspired by a letter from Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM to the world’s bishops encouraging them to designate people, including priests, whose “ministry” it would be to pray for the priesthood in the wake of the sex abuse crisis. The point of the letter was to begin to think about and work for a renewal of the priesthood. Today begins a novena inspired by Saint Peter Julian Emyard who in 1857 began his own renewal of the priesthood adoration movement. Let’s be united in prayer for the intentions of our priests.

Fr. Mark has also developed a program of prayer called Thursdays in Adoration and Reparation for Priests which keeps the Holy Thursday event of Our Lord forming the priesthood and giving us the gift of His Eucharistic Presence.

There are many opportunities to spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in parishes today (more now than a few years ago). And there religious orders who make it a point to adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament regularly, if not daily, for example, the Dominican nuns in North Guilford, CT and Linden, VA to name two monasteries, the pink sisters found in cities such as Philadelphia, St. Louis, Lincoln and Corpus Christi; the monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey and Newark Abbey have the daily practice of adoration prior to the Divine Office, the monks of Saint Mary’s Abbey (Morristown, NJ) have adoration and confession on the second Friday of the month for vocations and for the priesthood, the monks of Belmont Abbey (Belmont, NC) have recently dedicated an adoration chapel in the center of their college campus in honor of Saint Joseph where monks, students and other interested people gather with the Eucharistic Lord.

What better time than in Epiphanytide to develop a habit of prayer in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament? 



Father, son and Holy Church

Ruth Gledhill of the Times Online (of London) posted this story today on a very unique circumstance: a father & son who poped and are now Catholic priests. 


In what is believed to be a first, a father and son, both former Anglican clergy, have been ordained as Catholic priests and are now working for the same archdiocese, Birmingham.


Father & Son Poped and ordained.jpgFather Dominic Cosslett, 36, and his father, Father Ron Cosslett, 70, were both ordained by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, pictured above by Peter Jennings. Nichols is the favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as Archbishop of Westminster when he steps down early next year and the latest ordination of Father Dominic on 20 December shows he is continuing in the tradition of true Catholicity to which the British church has so long been witness.


Father Dominic was formerly an Anglican priest at the Church of Christ the King at Lourdes in Coventry. His father, Father Ron Cosslett, aged 70, also a former Anglican priest, was ordained as a Catholic priest by Nichols 3 July 2005. He is now priest-in-charge at St Joseph’s, Darlaston in the West Midlands.


Father Dominic, who is not married, has from a young age felt called to a celibate lifestyle. “Although as an Anglican marriage was open to me the way I live my life is naturally a celibate one,” he told me yesterday. His mother converted five years ago at the same time as his father and his sister and their children followed them over about a year ago.


Father and son concelebrated, celebrating the eucharist at the older Father’s parish, for the first time at Christmas.


“Both of us were in the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism,” said Father Dominic. “Like a lot of us in that tradition, we had always felt the Catholic Church was the rock from which we were hewn. It was always part of our journey, our faith, to seek unity with Rome. We came to the point where we felt we could not exercise our understanding of Catholicism within Anglicanism. It was time for us to go home.”


His father started out in Monmouth, South Wales and then moved to Burslem, one of the Five Towns in the Potteries in the Lichfield diocese. The family returned to Wales and his father’s last Anglican parish was St Paul’s in Swansea.


royal Eng College Valladolid.jpgUnder the guidelines agreed in the Catholic church for the reception of Anglican clergy who wish to become Catholic priests, Father Dominic, who studied theology at Llampeter and trained for the Anglican priesthood at the high church Mirfield College of the Resurrection before being priested in 1997, underwent a shortened training as to be a Catholic priest. He spent a year in the Spain at the
Royal English College at Valladolid and then went to seminary at St Mary’s Oscott.


As an Anglican, he served his curacy in Abergavenny in the Monmouth diocese when his bishop was Dr Rowan Williams, now Archbishop of Canterbury.  He moved to his own parish in the Birmingham diocese when its bishop was Dr John Sentamu, now Archbishop of York. He speaks highly of both men, but neither was enough to make him stay.


“I realised my own journey was to seek unity with Rome. Balanced with that was the awareness that the Anglican Church was going in a very different direction with various decisions it was making. I just felt I could not agree with those decisions. It comes down to authority. As an Anglican, it was sometimes very difficult. One parish might believe one thing, another might believe something else.


“There is an incredible rainbow of thought in the Anglican Church. Perhaps I was looking more for a central authority of teaching that the Catholic Church has. It was something I had always been looking for.”


He recognises his situation, with his father as a priest, might appear unusual to some but for him it feels normal. There is a long tradition in the Anglican church of father-and-son priests. The ministry often runs in families.


Asked whether he believes all Catholic priests should be allowed to marry, he said: “That is not my decision. The teaching of the Church is there. The Holy Father has graciously allowed those who are former Anglicans who are married to become priests.  The teaching remains the same and that is certainly not for me to comment on.”


But he was careful to emphasise that his new path was not a reaction against Anglicanism.

“Becoming a Catholic is not so much about being disatisfied with being an Anglican as about having a positive engagement with the Catholic Church. I am very grateful for my Anglican days. But I realised there is something else in the Catholic Church. That is very much what lay behind my decision.”


Vincent Nichols Arms.jpgArchbishop Nichols, in his words of welcome at the start of the ordination, said: “This situation a unique occasion and a great day in the life of the diocese.  Both a father and his son – after his ordination – will be serving as Catholic priests.”


More than 60 Catholic priests, including Father Dominic’s father, witnessed the ceremony.


Archbishop Nichols continued: “Just as the Angel Gabriel told Mary, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow’, so also this will manifest for Dominic.


“How else, except through this gift could Dominic ever make Christ present in the life of the Church? It is the same gift given all those centuries ago in Nazareth that is given in Coventry today.


“It is only our unity in the Church which ensures that we are faithful to what we have been given. This Ordination is part of a great Tradition – a great handing on – from one age to the next of his gift of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.


“Indeed, this sense of Tradition is crucial – Apostolic Tradition. The vital question for all of us and for Dominic is where is it to be found?


“We rejoice in the answer during this Ordination Ceremony. It is to be found, with utter reliability, in union with Peter the first Apostle, and in union with his Successor the Bishop of Rome.


“It is this visible unity which gives the Church the sure capacity to be faithful in the Apostolic Tradition; to hand on whole and entire, and to explore and develop its Doctrine in a faithful and secure manner. This unity is a great joy and a pearl of great price.


“So today we thank God for Dominic’s life and ministry as a priest in the Church of England. We rejoice as he steps into the priesthood in this full Communion of the Catholic Church through his ordination in this visible Apostolic Tradition.”

Pope Benedict address priests, nuns, sisters & consecrated men & women

Benedict XVI arms.jpgAddress of the Holy Father Benedict XVI

To the Participants in the

Plenary Assembly of the Congregation

For Institutes of Consecrated Life

And Societies of Apostolic Life


Clementine Hall
Thursday, 20 November 2008




Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,


I meet you with joy on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which is celebrating 100 years of life and activity. Indeed, a century has passed since my venerable Predecessor, St Pius X, with his Apostolic Constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29 June 1908, made your Dicastery autonomous as a Congregatio negotiis religiosorum sodalium praeposita, a name that has subsequently been modified several times. To commemorate this event you have planned a Congress on the coming 22 November with the significant title: “A hundred years at the service of the consecrated life”. Thus, I wish this appropriate initiative every success.


Today’s meeting is a particularly favourable opportunity for me to greet and thank all those who work in your Dicastery. I greet in the first place Cardinal Franc Rodé, the Prefect, to whom I am also grateful for expressing your common sentiments. Together with him I greet the Members of the Dicastery, the Secretary, the Undersecretaries and the other Officials who, with different tasks carry out their daily service with competence and wisdom in order to “promote and regulate” the practice of the evangelical counsels in the various forms of consecrated life, as well as the activity of the Societies of Apostolic Life (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, n. 105). Consecrated persons constitute a chosen portion of the People of God: to sustain them and to preserve their fidelity to the divine call, dear brothers and sisters, is your fundamental commitment which you carry out in accordance with thoroughly tested procedures thanks to the experience accumulated in the past 100 years of your activity. This service of the Congregation was even more assiduous in the decades following the Second Vatican Council that witnessed the effort for renewal, in both the lives and legislation of all the Religious and Secular Institutes and of the Societies of Apostolic Life. While I join you, therefore, in thanking God, the giver of every good, for the good fruits produced in these years by your Dicastery, I recall with grateful thoughts all those who in the course of the past century of its activity have spared no energy for the benefit of consecrated men and women.


This year the Plenary Assembly of your Congregation has focused on a topic particularly
2 nuns.jpgdear to me: monasticism, a forma vitae that has always been inspired by the nascent Church which was brought into being at Pentecost (Acts 2: 42-47; 4: 32-35). From the conclusions of your work that has focused especially on female monastic life useful indications can be drawn to those monks and nuns who “seek God”, carrying out their vocation for the good of the whole Church. Recently too (cf. Address to the world of culture, Paris, 12 September 2008), I desired to highlight the exemplarity of monastic life in history, stressing that its aim is at the same time both simple and essential: quaerere Deum, to seek God and to seek him through Jesus Christ who has revealed him (cf. Jn 1: 18), to seek him by fixing one’s gaze on the invisible realities that are eternal (cf. 2 Cor 4: 18), in the expectation of our Saviour’s appearing in glory (cf. Ti 2: 13).


Christo omnino nihil praeponere [prefer nothing to Christ] (cf. Rule of Benedict 72, 11; Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 29: 9; Cyprian, Ad Fort 4). These words which the Rule of St Benedict takes from the previous tradition, clearly express the precious treasure of monastic life lived still today in both the Christian West and East. It is a pressing invitation to mould monastic life to the point of making it an evangelical memorial of the Church and, when it is authentically lived, “a reference point for all the baptized” (cf. John Paul II, Orientale lumen, n. 9). By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God’s glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final “revelation of the sons of God” (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, on whom this Congregation’s Instruction Verbi Sponsa (13 May 1999) extensively reflected, monasticism can constitute for all the forms of religious life and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.


Trap2.jpgThe path pointed out by God for this quest and for this love is his Word itself, who in the books of the Sacred Scriptures, offers himself abundantly, for the reflection of men and women. The desire for God and love of his Word are therefore reciprocally nourished and bring forth in monastic life the unsupressable need for the opus Dei, the studium orationis and lectio divina, which is listening to the Word of God, accompanied by the great voices of the tradition of the Fathers and Saints, and also prayer, guided and sustained by this Word. The recent General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in Rome last month on the theme: The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, renewing the appeal to all Christians to root their life in listening to the Word of God contained in Sacred Scripture has especially invited religious communities to make the Word of God their daily food, in particular through the practice of lectio divina (cf. Elenchus praepositionum, n. 4).


Dear brothers and sisters, those who enter the monastery seek there a spiritual oasis where they may learn to live as true disciples of Jesus in serene and persevering fraternal communion, welcoming possible guests as Christ himself (cf. Rule of Benedict, 53, 1). This is the witness that the Church asks of monasticism also in our time. Let us invoke Mary, Mother of the Lord, the “woman of listening”, who put
BVM sub tuum.jpgnothing before love for the Son of God, born of her, so that she may help communities of consecrated life and, especially, monastic communities to be faithful to their vocation and mission. May monasteries always be oases of ascetic life, where fascination for the spousal union with Christ is sensed, and where the choice of the Absolute of God is enveloped in a constant atmosphere of silence and contemplation. As I assure you of my prayers for this, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all of you who are taking part in the Plenary Assembly, to all those who work in your Dicastery and to the members of the various Institutes of Consecrated Life, especially those that are entirely contemplative. May the Lord pour out an abundance of his comforts upon each one.


Some data:

Currently, there are 12,876 monks living in 905 monasteries and 48,493 contemplative nuns living in 3,520 monasteries, two-thirds of which are found in Europe. Spain has, by far, the most of any country.

The story is carried here.


About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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